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WISCONSIN OUTDOORS
Wisconsin

CURRENT NEWS from the Wisconsin DNR

Natural Resources Board to meet May 24-25 in Madison
MADISON - Approval of the 2016 deer hunting season framework and antlerless deer quotas and approval of the purchase of a 7,090-acre easement in Douglas County as part of the Forest Legacy Program are among the items the state Natural Resources Board will address when it meets May 25 in Madison.


Outdoor Report - May 12, 2016

WI DNR

Find Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism

General | Northern Region | Northeast Region | Southeast Region | South Central Region | West Central Region

A wet start to the week, after a warm and dry weekend, saw large regions of the state experience sporadic and, in some cases, heavy rain for the past several days. While this weekend is predicted to be slightly cooler, this moisture has driven down wildfire danger across much of the state that had reached very high last weekend. Most of the state is currently at "low" fire danger, but areas in the northeast and northwest remain at moderate levels.

Inland game fish anglers were greeted with unseasonably warm temperatures accompanied by strong winds on opening day. Angling pressure was generally moderate in the Northwoods, with a strong northwest wind creating some tough conditions for anglers on the larger lakes and flowages. Winds moderated on Sunday, but that meant anglers were greeted by healthy swarms of black flies that hatched during the warm spell. Walleye was the primary target for most anglers and success was generally fair to mediocre. Crappie and bluegill have really started to concentrate in the shallows, and anglers that were trying to escape the wind seemed to find them tucked along shore in the warmer bays. Trout angling was also real popular on the opening weekend and the managed trout lakes saw some moderate to heavy pressure and anglers out in full force on the Bois Brule River.

On Green Bay, anglers continued to report decent catch rates for walleye off Oconto. Anglers fishing off Door County reported catching smallmouth bass and an occasional northern pike. Anglers fishing along the Sturgeon Bay canal, Bayview Park, and Stone Harbor have been catching walleyes. Walleye continue to be caught in the Fox River although in smaller numbers than some weeks ago, but freshwater drum catches have been very high. On Lake Michigan, boats fishing out of Kewaunee and Algoma have been catching brown trout and a few chinook salmon.

Turkey season is now in the fifth period with just one remaining after this. Turkey harvest numbers have been high this season, with many turkey hunters reporting they harvested large birds this year. Hunter in some areas are now reporting reduced activity as most hens appear to be on their nests, incubating their clutch of eggs. Grouse are still drumming, woodcock are still peenting, and more Canada goose broods have been seen this week.

Fawn sightings are being reported in southern Wisconsin, but no sightings reported yet in the north. Many other wildlife youngsters are being seen, including red fox kits out of the dens, and playing around their homes.

The May birding blitz is on, with Neotropical migrants hitting the state in force. Much of the southern half of the state found large numbers of warblers, thrushes, vireos, grosbeaks and tanagers. More than 25 species of warblers were found in some locales. Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and ruby-throated hummingbirds are arriving statewide. Butterflies seen include the tiny, yet striking spring azure, as well as American copper, and the feisty red admiral.

The rains have brought a significant "green-up" to the state. Trees are well-leafed out in the south and now progressing in the north. Fiddleheads are nearly ready to frond. In the southern prairies and savannas, the brilliant orange-yellow of hoary puccoon, purple wood-sorrel, and prairie violets are blooming. In the woods, large patches of mayapple are on the verge of blooming, and bellwort, wood anemone, trilliums and trout lilies are blooming.

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workdays

Clover Valley Fen Workday - Enjoy the spring blooms and help girdle aspen at Clover Valley Fen SNA. Come see what's blooming and help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday. Enjoy a short hike through the woods and wet prairie to rare fen mounds, then use hand tools to girdle aspen. Aspen is native, but establishes with lack of fire and spreads aggressively on open sites. This work will remove it, enlarging the rare fen and wet prairie plant community. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Learn more here.

Pope Lake Workday - Grub out Japanese barberry at Pope Lake SNA in Hartman Creek State Park. Come enjoy the spring weather and help volunteers during our monthly Pope Lake SNA workday. Help clear the invasives in a lowland forest along a beautiful stream, learn something, meet knowledgeable people, and enjoy the beauty of this diverse setting. Barberry is shading out native understory plants and decreasing the biodiversity of this area. No skills needed as you will be trained onsite. Bring your boat and/or boots and spend the rest of the day boating the Upper Chain and/or hiking in Hartman Creek State Park. Learn more here. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Wildfire Report

Widespread rainfall alleviated fire danger across much of the state, although areas in the northeast and northwest did not receive much rain and fire danger remains slightly elevated. In the past week 73 fires burned 85 acres in DNR Protection Areas. The largest fire of the week burned 24 acres of marsh in Chippewa County; equipment (ATV) was the cause. Other wildfire causes this week included power lines, trash/debris burning, campfires, railroad and even several lightning fires. May 14 marks the third anniversary of the Germann Road Fire that burned 7,442 acres and 100 buildings (including 22 homes and cabins) in Douglas County. People are urged to continue to use caution with all types of outdoor burning, campfires, ash disposal and equipment use. Property owners are reminded to remain present when burning debris in a barrel or on the ground - should your fire escape, you can be held responsible for the cost of fire suppression and any damages resulting from the escaped fire. Clear an area around the pile or barrel and make sure a hose is attached to a working spigot. Wet down the burned area before leaving. Stay aware of the current fire danger for your area by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "fire."

Firewise Tip: Are there any branches or dead trees close to power lines on your property? Ask the power company to clear them. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison

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Statewide Birding Report

The May birding blitz is on. Neotropical migrants have hit the state in force as they move from central and southern American wintering grounds to breeding areas in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Canadian boreal forest. Much of the southern half of the state found large numbers of warblers, thrushes, vireos, grosbeaks, tanagers, and other on Wednesday and Thursday mornings all the way north to Green Bay. More than 25 species of warblers were found in some locales. Northern birders have to wait a little longer for peak diversity and numbers but the vanguard has reached the Lake Superior shore with the first Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and ruby-throated hummingbirds arriving statewide. If you don't already have out your orange halves, cups of jelly, sugar water, and sunflower seed, now is the time. White-throated and white-crowned sparrows are also on the move - keep an eye out for the highly-sought Harris's sparrow among them. Raptor migration continues with immature broad-winged, sharp-shinned, and red-tailed hawks, as well as a small number of other species mixed in. Shorebird migration is hot where mudflats and sandbars prevail. Look for willets, semipalmated plovers, short-billed dowitchers, dunlin, yellowlegs, least sandpipers and up to a dozen other species en route for arctic breeding grounds. The Great Wisconsin Birdathon is in peak form -- show your support for Wisconsin birds and their habitats at wibirdathon.org. Nesting season is also underway for many species and hundreds of volunteers are hitting the field for the second year of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Put your birding to good use for conservation by joining the effort at wsobirds.org/atlas. Lastly, some of the rare birds spotted this week included white-winged dove in La Crosse, white-faced ibis in Dane, California gull in Kenosha, summer tanager in Vilas, and Eurasian tree sparrow in Bayfield. Anything can show up this time of year so keep your eyes peeled and be sure to enter your sightings to eBird at ebird.org/content/wi. Enjoy the migration. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - It was incredible weather for the opener of fishing season this past Saturday. Good fishing was reported and, in addition, the vitamin D levels were on the rise for many fishermen. Cool mornings and warm afternoons have been the story for this week. Trees are starting to green up and the grass is growing. The upper portion of the Brule (South from Highway 2) is now open and many fly fisherman and other anglers were out in full force this weekend. The upper portion of the river can be hard to navigate due to access and soft bottoms for wading in some sections. The best way to enjoy this section is by canoe so consider that when you are planning your next fishing trip. USGS flow rate data and dnr.wi.gov a couple helpful links to use before heading to the Brule. Staff saw their first goslings of the year last week and woodcock chicks are hatching as well. They are also hearing the songs of many birds. Marsh marigolds are flowering in the wetlands and other flowers are starting to color the landscape on the Brule River State Forest. Saturday, April 30 marked another successful spring cleanup. The event was well attended and we greatly appreciate all the work that the volunteers put in. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Amnicon Falls State Park - A woodcock brood has been reported in the Amnicon area. The visitor who provided notification said the "little ones were the size of ping pong balls." - Kevin Feind, property supervisor

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Burnett County - Opening weekend of fishing found the walleye fishermen to be successful with a variety of fishing techniques including trolling, jigging, and using slip bobbers and live bait. Several trout fishers caught there limits of brown and brook trout by drifting a worm on a hook under a good cut bank. Panfishing seemed slow, but crappies were being found in the shallows. - Dustin Gabrielson, conservation warden, Grantsburg

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Opening weekend angling pressure was generally moderate on waters in the Upper Chippewa Basin, with a strong northwest wind creating some tough conditions for anglers on the larger lakes and flowages. Walleye are usually the primary target for most anglers in the Northwoods and success was generally fair to mediocre. The best action seemed to be in 8 to 14 feet of water and the active bite has been concentrated in the early morning hours and in the hour before dark. Most of the walleye that were caught have been in the 11 to 15-inch size, but a few fish in the 18 to 22-inch size have also been landed. A jig/minnow combination or a slip-bobber rig with a leech provided the best success, though stick baits casted along shore in the hour before dark also produced some fair action. Trout angling was also real popular on the opening weekend and the managed trout lakes saw some moderate to heavy pressure. However, with the windy and changing conditions, success was only fair. Both lakes and spring ponds produced a few decent excellent catches of brook and brown trout. Panfish received much less attention over the opening weekend - but these anglers seemed to find the most consistent success. Crappie and bluegill have really started to concentrate in the shallows, and anglers that were trying to escape the wind seemed to find them tucked along shore in the warmer bays. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - The lakes and river were busier than usual because of the fishing opener. Some were lucky and some were not, though it seemed like fun was had by all. The temperatures have been perfect for the seasonal raking and preparing the garden for planting. The trees are leafing out and service berries, trilliums, spring beauties, bloodroot, and trout lilies are all blooming. The red maples are seeding and the pollen is in the air. The fiddleheads are nearly ready to frond. The robins are nesting, Baltimore orioles, and red breasted grosbeaks have been spotted. The bears are out and about, still feeding on vegetation. It is close to the time that deer will be having fawns and shortly after that the elk will be calving. Some turtles have been seen, and after the rain, the night crawlers were out. Black flies are abundant right now and the mosquitoes are just starting. Be prepared when you come to visit with appropriate bug proof clothing or spray. ATV/UTV trails will be opening Saturday May 14. Watch for wildlife while out on the trails and drive responsibly. Hiking trails are open throughout the Forest. There also has been canoes and kayaks paddling the river. The water levels are perfect for an enjoyable ride down the river. The Flambeau River State Forest operates and diligently maintains 14 river sites and 7 landings on the Flambeau River. These river sites have up to 3 camping units at each river site. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate

Rhinelander DNR Service Center area

Oneida County - Green-up is slowly progressing, maples and aspen are starting to leaf out, but with the cool stretch of weather forecasted for the weekend this may slow down that progress (slight chance of snow on Saturday). Grouse are still drumming, woodcock are still peenting, and a few Canada goose broods have been seen this week. Turkey activity has slowed with many hens sitting on nests. No reports of fawns being seen yet. Spring peepers and chorus frogs can be heard in the evenings and mosquitos have started to make an appearance along with the black flies. - Eric Kroening, wildlife technician, Woodruff

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - This report is for the week of May 1-7. Water temperatures in the Bay were in the upper 40s to low 50s and fishing pressure was light during the week, but picked up considerably for the weekend opener. Fishing pressure was low and catch rates slow this past week. A few pike and walleye were being caught at the Peshtigo River mouth. Large shiner minnows fished under a bobber in the river mouth was catching a few pike while trolling and jigging in 4 1/2 to 12 feet of water has accounted for the walleye. A few brown trout and walleye were being caught out of Little River by anglers trolling in 6 to 12 feet of water using stick baits mostly. Fire tigers and clowns have been the go to baits, purples have also been working. Some walleye are being caught by the Hattie Street Dam using live bait and casting stick baits and small spoons, anglers report trolling the river for walleye has been slow. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Anglers looking for walleye out of the Geano Beach launch report decent catch rates. Both crank baits and crawler harnesses landed fish. The best time to go was early morning. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Brown County - Walleye continue to be caught in the Fox River although in smaller numbers than some weeks ago. Successful anglers are using cranks, jigs, live bait and flies. Boaters are landing more walleye than shore fishermen. Anglers are catching catfish up and down the river. The best places to catch these fish seem to be off Polier Street and then off the piers near the Main Street bridge. The best time is in the evenings into the night. Live bait off the bottom is the popular method. Anglers fishing live bait and crank baits are catching decent numbers of white bass. Freshwater drum catches have been very high. Fishermen at Voyager Park, off the shore line near Schenck and the mouth of the river are catching them throughout the day. They are hitting cranks as well as bottom lying live bait. The river continues to have a large amount of carp just behind the De Pere Dam in Voyager Park. Spawning musky pairs are showing up with increased frequency along the shore line. Other fish being caught include gobies, smallmouth bass and crappie. Fishing pressure was low to moderate through the week but increased significantly on the opening weekend of the fishing season. Water clarity was low. Water temperatures have steadily increased into the mid to upper 50s. Carp bow fishermen heading out onto Duck Creek are landing fish at decent rates. Launching at night is producing the best results. A fair amount of northern pike have landed this week on Duck Creek. Most the fish are smaller in size. Crank baits are producing the best bite. This week water clarity has shifted from poor to around two feet near the shoreline and back again. Fishing pressure was mostly fair to moderate. Walleye catch rates were hit or miss on the lower end of the bay for boaters launching from the Metro and Suamico launches. North and northeast winds kept anglers off the water during much of the week including the morning of the fishing season opener. Those who were able to get out in the earlier hours had the most success. Crank baits are being used at a higher rate than crawler harnesses, but both caught fish. High rates of northern pike continue to be caught by anglers looking for walleye. Pike sizes range from in the teens to upper 30 inches. Side catches have included high numbers of freshwater drum, some catfish and an occasional yellow perch. Surface water temperatures have risen and, during the week, stood in the mid to upper 50s. Using primarily live bait, Suamico River anglers were fishing mostly for "anything they could catch." Fishing pressure was light and water clarity was less than a foot. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Boats returning to Egg Harbor reported catching smallmouth bass and an occasional northern pike. Anglers fishing from the piers in Rowleys Bay have been catching smallmouth bass, small northern pike, and an occasional walleye using shiners. Boats fishing near Gills Rock have been having success catching smallmouth bass using jerk baits and flashy plastics. Anglers launching at the Stone Quarry and Sawyer Park have reported a tough smallmouth bass bite, but have reported catching a few 4-6 pound fish. Anglers fishing from boats and from shore along the Sturgeon Bay canal, Bayview Park, and Stone Harbor have been catching walleyes using suckers, shiners, and rippin raps. Steelhead have been observed in Heins Creek downstream from highway 57 and Hibbards Creek downstream from county road A. Over the weekend anglers canoeing Rieboldt Creek upstream to Mud Lake have been having success catching Northern Pike in Mud Lake using various spinner baits. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Fishing pressure on the Kewaunee River this past week has been low and the steelhead run is pretty much over for this year. Fishing pressure on the piers has been low as well. Boats have been catching Brown Trout trolling along the shoreline. Anglers have also reported catching a few Chinook Salmon while trolling for Browns in 20-30 feet of water. Fishing pressure on the Ahnapee River and Stoney Creek has been low. A few anglers have reported seeing fish on redds yet, but the steelhead run is petering out. Boats launching from Algoma have been having success trolling south for Brown Trout using stick baits. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Orioles have made their way back along with many different warbler and other bird species. Wild asparagus is now up and morels are beginning to pop-up too. Geese are hatching, turkeys are on nests, some mourning doves have fledged young and are back on a second clutch of eggs. Garlic mustard, an invasive herb, is growing fast -- keep an eye out for the scalloped leaves that smell of garlic. If you find them in small quantity, hand pulling before they set seed is a very effective control method. Do not compost the plants, however, bag them and send them to the landfill as this plant can survive, root, and begin to grow if left in a compost pile. Mosquitos are just beginning to make an appearance so overall still a great time to take to the woods and lakes and enjoy the natural world. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Governor Thompson State Park - On warm days you can hear the chorus frogs, wood frogs and spring peepers near the wetlands. The snapping turtles are starting their spring migration back to their summer haunts and are frequent travelers through the picnic area. The spring flowers are starting to bloom. Wood violets, marsh marigolds and wood anemones are now in bloom on the forest floor. The campground is open and shower facilities should open this weekend. The fishing pier at the South Bay Landing on Caldron Falls is in. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Manitowoc County - Fisherman were successful in Manitowoc County on opening weekend; however, water temperatures are still low. Most anglers are waiting for sunny days and warmer temperatures before they get out on the water. The forecast for the weekend of May 14 and 15 contains temperatures in the low to mid 50s and cloudy/windy weather. Period E for the 2016 spring turkey season has just begun and many hunters are out in the woods. Turkey harvest numbers have been high this season. Many turkey hunters have reported they harvested large birds this year as well. Many geese have been seen with young goslings and monarch butterflies have been observed throughout the county. - Jake Bolks - conservation warden, Mishicot

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Trout were absolutely biting like crazy. Night crawlers and spinners were the hot baits. Bugs not bad, only a couple ticks and no mosquitos. Have not seen any fawns yet. Haven't seen any baby bird broods yet. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - The weather has been rainy this week, but with a great opening weekend folks were out and about and did well on the trout streams, but the lakes were still a little cold to be very productive. Turkey season is still going strong, but some birds are still very henned up, take your time and find your spots and success could come easy. I have also been seeing a number of hens out and about on their own, which is telling me they are starting to nest and lay eggs. I have not heard any reports of fawns, but I have heard a number of bears out on the landscape being sighted. As always enjoy what Waushara County has to offer, looks to be a slightly cooler weekend ahead, but should still be plenty of time to get out. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Spring has progressed in the last week with new wildflowers, migrant birds, herps, and butterflies appearing. In the wetlands, the early spring songs of spring peeper and boreal chorus frogs have been replaced by the eerie humming of American toads. Newly arrived common yellowthroats and yellow warblers have started singing from shrubs and trees in, and bordering the wetlands, respectively. In the prairies and savannas, the brilliant orange-yellow of hoary puccoon, purple wood-sorrel, and prairie violets are blooming; the tiny white flowers of bastard toadflax are about to bloom and the deep red prairie smoke will soon display its unique wispy fruit. Highlights from the bird world in the prairies and savannas include sightings of Henslow's sparrow, bobolink, and lark sparrow. In the oak woods, large patches of mayapple are on the verge of blooming, while downy yellow violet, bellwort, and wood anemone bloom yellow and white. In the woods, new migrant birds for the year include veery, blue-gray gnatcatcher, red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos, blue-winged warbler, ovenbird, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak, and house wren. Butterflies seen include the tiny, yet striking spring azure, as well as American copper, and the feisty red admiral. All are invited to our Saturday 10 a.m. wildflower walks and Sunday 8 a.m. bird walks every weekend in May. Meet at the Forest HQ (Rt. 59 between Eagle and Palmyra). - Todd Miller, assistant naturalist guide

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Sheboygan County - Volunteers can get the training they need May 14 at Kohler-Andrae State Park to become a rare plant detective for Wisconsin - hot on the trail of some of the state's most unique plants. Such volunteer help has dramatically increased DNR's ability to collect information about rare plants hidden around Wisconsin and enabled the state to target management activities to help the plants survive as an important part of Wisconsin's natural heritage. The training runs from noon to 3 p.m. Sign up by contacting program coordinator Kevin Doyle by phone (608-267-9788) or email (kevinf.doyle@wisconsin.gov). - Kevin Doyle, conservation biologist, Madison

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Wyalusing State Park -All trails are open. Lots of hikers reporting birds that have been sighted in the park. Black billed cuckoo, whip-poor-will, yellow bellied sapsucker, eastern phoebe, bald eagles, scarlet tanager, yellow-rumped warbler, yellow throated warbler and eastern blue bird. Other hikers are reporting the flowers in the park. Blue eyed grasses, shooting star, hoary puccoon, wood anemone, rue anemone, early meadow rue, lyre leaved rock cress, wild oats and blue phlox. Park concession stand is now open late afternoons Friday, Saturday and Sundays. With canoe rental, campers are in the back waters fishing for bass and walleye, or just out for a leisure canoe ride, looking at the eagles nest. - Pam Dressler, visitor services associate

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - On Saturday, May 14 from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. the third annual "Wildflowers for Wildlife" event will take place at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. "Wildflowers for Wildlife: enhancing your own backyard" is an event hosted by the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. They have partnered with Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries and Applied Ecological Services for a native plant sale that will help enhance your backyard, schoolyard, park or natural area and in turn, benefit wildlife. At the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center located on Hwy. 28, there will be a native plant sale, displays and consultants available from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. A wildflower walk to look for woodland wildflowers will take place from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Plein Air artists from the Wild Goose Fine Arts United group will be on-site as they demonstrate some amazing artwork. The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center located on Hwy. Z will hold native landscape demonstration tours between 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Why native plants? Native landscaping restores ecosystems that once covered the Midwestern landscape but are now reduced to small parcels. Once native plants are restored, birds, mammals, reptiles and beneficial insects return as well. Native plants also enrich the soil, decrease run-off and filter pollution. In the long run, native landscaping can save money annually in maintenance costs. Native plants have developed to thrive in a specific environment which means less watering, fertilizer and time. Native landscapes offer hands-on opportunities for people of all ages to learn about habitats and ecosystems. A native landscape also provides the ideal setting for bird and butterfly watching, photography and nature walks. Additional information can be found at www.horiconmarsh.org or by calling 920-387-7893. Plants will also be for sale the day of the event. The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located at N7725, Hwy. 28 in Horicon - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - More and more fawn sightings are being reported, along with many other wildlife youngsters. Red fox kits are being reported out of the dens, and playing around their homes. Bluebirds have hatched and are keeping their parents busy trying to fill their voracious appetites. Eagle young can be seen standing on the sides of their nests stretching their wings. It's a great time to walk in the woods - mosquitoes are out, but don't seem too bad. Morels are still being found, and there's many wildflowers blooming, including trillium, wild geranium, and wood violets. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

Opening weekend for fishing in Columbia County was relatively slow. Plenty of reports of successful turkey hunters in the area. Many of the local Canada geese have hatched their broods already. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - The Baltimore oriole is a strikingly beautiful, active, and vocal member of the blackbird family making it easy to identify by sight and sound. Males have jet black heads and tails, bright orange breasts and rumps, and white wing patches. Females are brownish olive on top with white wing bars, and a pale yellow-orange breast and belly. Baltimore orioles received their name because the male's colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore. Males sing loud, fluty whistles (listen here: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/sounds). This species generally resides in hardwood forests but has adapted to open woodlands, forest edges, parks, and urban backyards. Orioles' hanging pouch-like nests, created from milkweed down, weed fibers, dog hair, wool, yarns, and other fibrous materials, are usually constructed at the tips of tree limbs 15-30 feet above the ground, secure from predators. Orioles readily adapt to bird feeders that provide orange halves, small trays of grape jelly, mealworms, walnut pieces, apple bits, or nectar made from 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Clumps of nesting materials, such as string, yarn, dog hair, or horse hair, suspended in trees and bushes may also serve to attract springtime orioles. The fourth wild turkey hunting time period seemed pretty uneventful. Many hunters reported early morning gobbler activity that ended abruptly about two hours after sunrise. Gobbler activity then picked back up from late morning into early afternoon. Most hens appear to be on their nests, incubating their clutch of eggs, which averages about 10-12 eggs. Incubation takes about 28 days. Most incubating hens leave their ground nest one time each day, although it is common for some to skip a day. Upon leaving the nest, hens typically find a drink of water, feed, and return to the nest after about an hour's absence. Incubating hens and their eggs are vulnerable to ground predators, especially skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, and crows. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Monroe County - Fisherman were successful in Manitowoc County on opening weekend, however water temperatures are still low. Most anglers are waiting for sunny days and warmer temperatures before they get out on the water. The forecast for the weekend of May 14 and 15 contains temperatures in the low to mid 50s and cloudy/windy weather. Period E for the 2016 spring turkey season has just begun and many hunters are out in the woods. Turkey harvest numbers have been high this season. Many turkey hunters have reported they harvested large birds this year as well. Many geese have been seen with young goslings and monarch butterflies have been observed throughout the county. - Jacob Bolks, conservation warden, Fort Mccoy

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds we have been seeing or hearing include: rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, robins, red polls, a variety of wrens, phoebes, Canada geese, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, and belted kingfishers. The great blue herons, green herons, barred owls, ravens, osprey and bald eagles are on their nests. We have seen the first fawns and goslings of the year, the turtles are sunning and the frogs are singing. The maples have leafed out and the cherry species have begun to bloom. The ferns are in the process of unfurling. Miterwort, spring beauty, common and wood strawberry, dog violet, marsh marigolds, trillium, wild columbine, bellworts, and the false rue anemones are in bloom. Area open water game fish and pan fish action has been fast with warm temperatures or very quiet during cooler days in the sheltered bays. Hikers have many great opportunities within the park. Whether it's using the island's trail system, exploring the wilder areas of the park, or a brisk walk on the park road, you're sure to enjoy these beautiful woodlands. - Dave Hladilek, park manager

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